Dropbox to disable the public folder for Pro customers

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 16, 2016
Updated • Dec 16, 2016

The public folder was one of those features that set the file sync and management service Dropbox apart from other services of its kind.

The company stopped the creation of public folders for new users in 2012, and converted the public folder for new users to a private one in March 2016 for all free Dropbox users.

Dropbox disabled the option to share links to render HTML content in a web browser furthermore for free users on October 3, 2016.

This left Pro and Business users with access to the public folder. According to a support page on the Dropbox Help Center site, this will no longer be the case come September 1, 2017.

Dropbox Pro and Business users: Beginning September 1, 2017, you can no longer render HTML content and the Public folder and its sharing functionality will be disabled.

dropbox public folders

A discussion thread on the official Dropbox forum highlights some of the issues that the change causes for paying customers of Dropbox.

Users used the public storage in the past as a place to store files that they linked to or embedded from other web properties. A common theme is the embedding of images stored in the public folder in forums and on websites.

The main issue for these Dropbox customers is that these links will no longer work. Embedded images or files will show an error, and users who accessed the resources previously cannot do so anymore.

Dropbox customer Alexander describes the issue in the following way:

I absolutely agree with the previous commenters. A lot of people used public links to post images to forums, mostly small ones, which do not provide built-in storage for images and attachments.

On our local community forum I've posted hundreds of such images and advised other users to use Dropbox for this purpose as well. This content is still useful and the loss of it will be a major problem for all our users.

The main issue for customers of the service who used public folders in the way is that all their links and embeds will stop working when the change goes live.

Dropbox replaced it with a link creation feature instead which pro and business users can make use of. Old links don't get converted however into public links so that users would have to make them public again individually, and replace the current link on the target site as well.

The latter may not always be possible, the former is a huge nuisance and time consuming.

Now You: Are you affected by the change?

Dropbox to disable the public folder for Pro customers
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Dropbox to disable the public folder for Pro customers
According to a support page on the Dropbox Help Center site, Dropbox will stop supporting public folders for Pro and Business customers.
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  1. Marc said on August 20, 2017 at 2:20 am

    I have Amazing Audio player files. Lots! I tied the above for the HTML code and does not work. Any other work around?

  2. Graham said on March 20, 2017 at 12:22 am

    Has this change occurred for anyone yet? It’s March 19 and my Public folder is still available.
    (No, I don’t have Pro.)

  3. Tim Sneller said on March 17, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Many older postings on forums cannot be edited at all, so the postings now become worthless.

  4. LARRY said on March 2, 2017 at 1:42 am

    I am extremely disappointed in DropBox for deleting public folders which I use for my website. I have nowhere to go!! Please, can somebody provide an alternate solution? I’m not cheapskate either, I’m a 4 year paying dropbox-pro customer and am more than willing to pay a monthly fee to find an equivalent replacement. Are there any DB alternatives out there? THIS IS THE END OF DROPBOX FOR ME!

    1. Nick said on March 6, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Yeah, MEGA service is great alternative.

  5. Tony said on March 1, 2017 at 10:51 pm


    1. Access your public folder and copy the entire list of photos (select all + copy)
    2. Create a new private folder and paste those photos in there
    3. Share individual photos to generate an image url
    (it’ll be something like this: https://www.dropbox.com/s/xxxxxxx/image001.png?dl=0)
    4. Replace http://www.dropbox.com with dl.dropboxusercontent.com and remove the ?dl=0 parameter
    (basically like this: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/xxxxxxx/image001.png)
    5. Use the new url on your website/forums/etc.

    You’ll have to go through step 3 & 4 for EVERY single photo, but it’ll work.

    You’re welcome.

    1. Uhanna said on March 30, 2017 at 10:52 pm

      Thank you, it worked like magic!

    2. Scoox said on March 3, 2017 at 5:10 am

      Replacing stuff locally is not really such a big problem, the problem is going through every forum where you’ve posted a link to a public file and fixing it. Furthermore, if someone has reposted your old link it will no longer work. So basically it’s a load of garbage and Dropbox will almost certainly die. Like I said, my only use for Dropbox has been the public folders, and public folders is the sole reason why I didn’t use any other service. Sure, I’ve been freeloading on their free service, and it has served me well–so well that I’m willing to pay for it if that’s what it takes to keep it going, but Dropbox aren’t giving me that option! Personally I think they’ve totally lost the plot. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  6. dani said on February 4, 2017 at 3:53 am

    This is the END of Dropbox for me

  7. WTF Dropbox said on February 1, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    This changes a lot for me. In fact, it creates GIGANTIC frustrations and hassles. I pay for Dropbox. I should be able to use it how I wish.

  8. Darling85 said on February 1, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    anyone has an alternative solution to hosting files in public folders?

    I tried google drive but it seems like they also discontinued their public hosting function.

    So whats left out there?

  9. James Kennard said on January 16, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Outrageous! I’d understand if it was a way of saying “the days of services for free are over and now you’ll have to pay”, but that’s not the case here. They’re just taking away something that many have relied on for years, and rendering hours of work worthless.

  10. Scoox said on January 12, 2017 at 4:38 am

    Not sure but this could be a strategy to get non-paying users to buy a subscription. It’s possible Dropbox plan to suddenly take back this decision and say “ok if you buy a subscription you’ll be able to use the public folder as in the past, but if and only if you pay”. I know many including myself who would happily pay a small fee just to keep all the previous work. Seriously, there are alternatives but migrating would be very time-consuming, requiring users to back-track each file and then right-click each file individually to copy a cryptic public link. The cool thing about Dropbox’s public folder was that you could generate links manually using the local file path, and I had a script to do this automatically (Ctrl+G on a file in my Dropbox folder would copy the public link to the clipboard). This is much better than using cryptic public links humans cannot understand. It was this convenience that caught got me on board in the first place. I have previously used other services, some of which have closed down and migrating was an absolute nightmare. I was hoping Dropbox being the most popular one wouldn’t drop the ball but they all do, eventually. Dropbox is the epitome of why the cloud is not a viable long term storage solution, and local storage is and a sensible backup strategy are.

    Notice, too, that cryptic links greatly hinder the migration process. If the original file name was “hello world.txt” and the cryptic link was “do3dwUU1”, you’d basically need to manually look into each of potentially thousands of files to locate it, and the re-link it to the new service provider. Life’s too short for that sort of thing.

  11. Bunny83 said on January 12, 2017 at 1:34 am

    It affects me as well. I’m an active member of the Unity Answers Q&A site. I host 100+ images in a sub folder of my public folder. A lot of these images are linked from several answers / comments i’ve posted. Besides those images i also hosted example scripts / projects and many webplayer / WebGL example builds which already do not work anymore.

    I’m not a pro user but i have my DB account for a very long time and have still access to the public folder feature.

    I also used my public folder to host all my computercraft scripts / programs which can be downloaded by a package downloader script i made, Even this one isn’t that important, it’s also quite annoying.

    I already search for alternatives which hopefully last “longer”. However i’m not looking forward to checking my 5000+ answers and 8000+ comments on UA and replacing the links. I don’t quite understand the reason for this change. I understand that HTML content might have been misused for fraud / phishing stuff, but scrapping the whole public folder just makes no sense.

  12. Jamrock said on December 23, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    This is why the cloud is shitty as hell !!!!

  13. Jan Langevad said on December 21, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    This “new service improvement” from Dropbox is really “pain in the a..”.
    I post result from sport events on a special FaceBook page, with links to PDF files in my DropBox Public folder, containing the results, originally written as a document.

    ALL those links wil be broken by this new “policy”. I will have edit a LOT of old postings on the Facebook page, or simply accepting all my postings as “lost”.

    It’s OK to drop the possiblility that files can be accessed with simple links, that ended up in a plain test filename.
    This could be misused – but “cryptic” links should be no problem to keep working.

    Dropbox MUST keep these more “cryptic” links active “forever”!
    Otherwise they let a lot of customers down.

    If Dropbox does not change their mind, an keep these links active, I’ll drop Dropbox, and not recommend the company to anybody.

  14. Marc said on December 19, 2016 at 11:05 am

    I have a large series of very small videos in the Public folder that I use in websurveys. I understand I can create new links from a private folder but this will be a large job for me. Also these links won’t have a common directory like the links in the Public folder had. So if there is an alternative out there, please let me know … :((

    1. Fe said on December 20, 2016 at 5:20 am

      If you’re upset by this change…. We’re trying (perhaps in vain) to get Dropbox to take notice! Like our Facebook page and help us get the message to Dropbox that as paying customers, we do not want to lose the Public Folder! :triumph:


  15. Dave said on December 18, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    So, um… Any alternatives you guys can recommend?

  16. Leonard said on December 18, 2016 at 5:23 am

    It is! Look how Dropbox now added tons of homework for pro user who rely heavily to the public folder. Great job, dropbox!

  17. flz said on December 18, 2016 at 3:34 am

    As a Dropbox user since 2009, I have invited over 1000 new Dropbox user, but now I’m very disappointed by Dropbox, and I think I will no longer recommend Dropbox to others

  18. JMD said on December 18, 2016 at 12:38 am

    This will be a problem to me… I have some public documents that i’ve generated a QRCode that is going on my business card… I will have to make new ones with new QRcode, in time that the ones I have will be garbage after March 2017.

  19. Jeff Connell said on December 17, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Well, that’s the end of Dropbox.

    It is for me and most I suspect.

  20. Graham said on December 17, 2016 at 1:30 am

    Well, I’m not a Pro user, so I can thankfully still use my free account to link my images.

    1. anonymous said on December 17, 2016 at 1:56 am

      Basic users are also affected. The only difference is the date of the switch over is earlier: March 15, 2017

  21. anon said on December 16, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Maybe they’ll improve the link conversion if enough customers threaten to cancel their subscriptions.

    1. practiCal fMRI (@practiCalfMRI) said on January 11, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      Yep if it’s any hassle for me – I use public links for teaching materials on my blog – then I’ll be canceling my subscription and finding an alternative, most likely using a Google tool since these now come for free (to me) through work. I guess those who weren’t around for the dawn of the web have no concept of the idea of longevity in web apps.

    2. Chains The Bounty Hunter said on December 17, 2016 at 3:06 am

      With all the “better” changes they’ve made to the service of late, it’s shocking to find anyone still subscribing at all.

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